Nutritional Counselling: An Intervention for HIV-Positive Patients

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Journal of Advanced Nursing




Aim: This paper reports an investigation of the effectiveness of nutritional counselling as an intervention to improve health outcomes for HIV-positive patients in Ghana, West Africa.

Background: In Ghana, like many developing countries, more patients with HIV and AIDS die because of their poor nutritional status than from the disease itself. With the lack of highly active anti-retroviral therapy for most HIV-infected patients in developing countries, nutritional counselling about high protein diet can be an essential intervention to reduce weight loss and improve weight gain and survival outcomes.

Method: We used secondary-analytic data collected in summer 2003. Recorded monthly weights of HIV-positive patients were obtained and analysed for 25 people, whose ages ranged from 21 to 60 years, with a mean of 39·4 years (sd = 10·13).

Results: HIV-positive patients responded favourably to nutritional counselling about protein dietary intake as an intervention to improve weight gain. Repeated measures showed a statistically significant weight gain (P = 0·008).

Conclusion: In the absence of anti-retroviral therapy, high protein nutrition can be an effective intervention for HIV-positive patients in developing countries. The health and nutritional status of the patients can be improved through nutritious food, allowing them to lead longer and better quality lives.